Just when we thought Netflix’s Daredevil series was canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a new report calls those claims into question.
How come? According to The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) (THR), Daredevil: Born Again – the upcoming MCU superhero TV series – has reportedly added Jon Bernthal to its casting ranks. Bernthal, who played Frank Castle/The Punisher in Netflix’s Defenders-Verse, is set to reprise his role as the bloodthirsty vigilante in Daredevil’s Disney Plus show, which is slated for release in late 2024.
We previously reported that Bernthal was coming to the MCU as part of Marvel’s Phase 5, so we’re glad to see that The Walking Dead The alum is set to play the fan-favorite character again.
However, as enjoyable as Bernthal’s return is, it raises big questions about how Netflix’s Defenders-Verse fits into the MCU (if at all). if the MCU’s Daredevil is the same as we’ve seen before. and what this all means for Marvel if it decides to integrate other non-MCU TV shows into its colossal cinematic universe.
Let’s start with Daredevil’s MCU regularity. Marvel announced that a Daredevil MCU TV show was in development during its July 2022 Comic-Con panel, confirming that Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio will reprise their roles as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Wilson Fisk from Netflix’s Marvel TV universe.
Immediately, fans began to wonder if the pair would be the same characters we saw on Netflix Daredevil TV show. Following roles and supporting roles Spider-Man: No Way Home and Hawkeyeviewers were none the wiser as to whether this was the case.
However, Daredevil’s supporting role in the She-Hulk: Lawyer appeared to confirm that this iteration of the superhero was the same one we’d seen on Netflix Daredevil series. It was She-Hulk Episode 8 all but confirmed Netflix’s Daredevil series was canon in the MCU, which seems to have put an end to the confusion.
The return of Bernthal’s Punisher, however, calls that into question. For starters, The Punisher is a much more violent character than Daredevil, dishing out deadly punishment from the bloody bucket in the comics and in his recent live-action appearances.
If the MCU’s Punisher is the same version that Bernthal is portraying Daredevil Season 2 and his standalone Netflix series, Marvel will have to rein in his brutality, which lessens his effectiveness as a counterpoint to Daredevil.
Charlie Cox exclusively told TechRadar that Daredevil: Born Again it won’t be fully R-rated, so it won’t be as violent as Netflix’s Daredevil it was the turn anyway. Even so, the best part of Bernthal’s Punisher was his raw, uncompromising and vicious crusade against the criminal underworld. Removing this R-rated aspect from the character weakens him and, in the eyes of some fans, may make The Punisher too Disney-friendly to be seen as the same person we’ve seen before.
Then there’s the other elephant in the room: the absence of Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson and Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page.
Daredevil Season 3 concluded with Foggy, Page and Murdock teaming up once again to form a new law firm called Murdock, Nelson and Page. However, THR suggests that Woll and Henson have not been asked to return as their characters Born againnoting that it is unclear whether they have been recast or are not part of the series at all.
If MCU’s Daredevil, Fisk, and The Punisher are the same iterations of characters from Netflix Daredevil, wouldn’t it make sense to bring back Matt Murdoch’s business associates – not to mention his extremely loyal friends? Foggy and Page are as integral to Daredevil’s comic and live-action journeys as anyone else, if not more so.
Pushing aside these characters – especially the versions played with such emotional weight by Woll and Henson – for Born again suggests that Daredevil’s Netflix show might not be entirely typical of the MCU after all. Likewise, it begs the question whether Born again will cope with their absence. If that doesn’t happen, audiences may see Marvel just pick and choose what elements they want to carry over from the Netflix TV adaptation.
The studio has past form for choosing the content and characters they carry over from their non-MCU productions.
Agent Cartera Marvel TV show that aired on ABC and was made after Captain America: The First Avenger, is not technically an MCU project. However, Marvel took bits and pieces from that show, like Howard Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis, and incorporated them into Avengers: Endgame. Anson Mount reprized his role as Black Bolt from another ABC Marvel show – Inhumans – to Doctor Strange 2even in a cameo capacity.
Finally, there is speculation that Daisy Johnson/Chloe Bennet’s Quake, which first appeared on ABC Agents of SHIELDwill appear in Secret Invasion later this year. Marvel’s decision to include certain characters and subplots from non-MCU projects in its cinematic universe, then, muddies the waters even more.
However, unlike its sibling shows, Netflix’s Daredevil series seemed to be fully integrated into the MCU. The inclusion of The Punisher, as well as the distinct lack of other key characters from the Netflix TV adaptation, suggests that this may no longer be the case.
Of course, there is still time for the pendulum to swing in the opposite direction. Marvel has already confirmed this Deadpool 3 it will be her first fully R-rated film, so there’s always the possibility Born again could be the first TV-MA/18-plus MCU TV series. Page and Henson could also appear in cameo roles, despite what THR reported.
Marvel, Cox and company may just be trying to throw us all off the scent in an effort to preserve some surprises for when the show starts airing. In an age where fans crave every morsel of information about upcoming Marvel projects, keeping these secrets until the release date would make a welcome change.
Right now, though, it looks like the return of just one character has debunked our theories — about Netflix Daredevil is canon in the MCU – out of the water. With principal photography on the series starting soon, we hope Marvel will confirm if Born again is a full sequel to the Netflix TV series.
For more Marvel coverage, learn how to watch Marvel movies in order. Plus, see which MCU TV series made our list of the best Disney Plus shows and how we’ve ranked every Marvel movie so far.